I struggle to recall a time when the G1 Climax didn’t consume our daily lives. Is it because the G1 has always been with us, or that we’re only truly alive when it is?
NIGHT ELEVEN (A BLOCK)
YOSHI-HASHI defeats Bad Luck Fale
Listen, Bad Luck Fale is not about to tap out to something called a “Butterfly Lock.” He’s a big guy, got the shades and a soul patch, calls himself “The Underboss.” It’s not gonna happen. But YOSHI-HASHI, perhaps in a display of brilliant game planning, tried and tried again — and then tried one more time after that — until a frustrated Fale found himself pinned by an out-of-left-field inside cradle.
Zack Sabre Jr. defeats Togi Makabe
Sabre brought Desperado with him, but Makabe had a chain, so I wasn’t overly concerned. Sabre is what they call a “scientific wrestler,” which is a nice way of saying he’s a pencil-neck dweeb who likes to flop around on the mat.
Makabe likes forearms and slams, and when he’s done with that, he’ll drop a knee on your face from eight feet up. It may not be “scientific,” but it’s gotten him this far. Let’s see where Sabre is when he’s 67, or however old Makabe is.
Makabe’s gruff trade was on display in the early goings, but a botched King Kong knee drop led to Sabre tying him up with his spindly limbs. Tired of all the rolling around, Makabe tapped out. They say a heel hook was the official result, I say Makabe had better things to do.
Tomohiro Ishii defeats Yuji Nagata
Like any civilized human being, I’m invested in seeing Nagata capture his first win of the tournament. I also become overwhelmed with emotion whenever I hear Ishii’s theme music. Because of this, I found these two men staring at each other from across the ring more exhilarating than most actual matches.
What followed was a black and blue masterpiece conducted by a pair of the finest orchestrators of violence that our generation may ever know. The fact that we exist in the same time period as a man who can take a kick to the chest like Ishii, or perform a top rope exploder like Nagata should move us to tears.
Ishii looked to have things wrapped up after a volley of headbutts and lariats, but Nagata, Christ-like figure that he is, rose again. But even Jesus H. himself would’ve needed more than three days to get up from the brainbuster that put Nagata at 0-6.
Head held high, Nagata refused assistance as he marched toward the back. At this point, it’s mathematically impossible for him to win the G1. Yet he soldiers on. If only we all could be so strong.
Tetsuya Naito defeats Hirooki Goto
Obviously in awe of what they just witnessed, these two came out and performed in a daze. Naito spit, Goto snarled. There were Destinos and GTRs. But with them unable to function at their normally high level, it all felt perfunctory. Even when Naito hit the Destino for the three count, it was a move of habit, not passion. I applaud these gentlemen for even bothering to come out, given the circumstances.
Kota Ibushi defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi
Lately I’ve been in dire need of some positive energy. The cure, I thought, was Hiroshi Tanahashi. I was wrong.
At first, he appeared to be his usual love and energy self. Hair on point, rocking some air guitar on his way down the ramp. Ibushi, on the other hand, was breathing hard and heavy as Tanahashi entered the ring — afraid that he’d wind up playing buzzkill to all the warm vibes. Again, I was wrong.
Tanahashi tossed his invisible guitar out into the crowd. Which was very positive. The match began, they clinched and hit the ropes. The ref called for a clean break, but instead Tanahashi nailed Ibushi with a slap. Which was not at all positive.
And then he did it again. Shattered, I immediately began to question anything and everything. Is this what the heavy breathing was about? Did Ibushi sense this darkness lurking within Tanahashi’s perfectly sculpted form? Is that why he kept doing that weird thing with his tongue, like a nervous dog? I can’t say for sure.
What I can say for sure is that I don’t appreciate the way Okada and Tanahashi have been playing with my emotions lately. It’s almost as if they don’t realize they’re my main source of strength. Gosh, listen to me, how silly. Of course they know.
But even through the dizzying haze of anxiety that overcame me, I could still recognize that this was one of the best matches of the tournament. In the end, it was a knee from Ibushi, straight to Tanahashi’s face, that put the Ace down for the count. And I believe it had something of a purifying effect, as well. After the match, the darkness seemed to have dissipated.
Yet the fact that it was ever there frightens me. Could it be that the G1 Climax brings out both the best and the worst in its participants? I fear that I won’t find the answer, but that the answer will find me.
NIGHT TWELVE (B BLOCK)
SANADA defeats Juice Robinson
SANADA, while incredible on a technical level, brings no fire. Juice… Juice maybe brings too much fire. An interesting dynamic, no doubt. One that created a balance, resulting in a match that had just the right amount of fire.
A fire that was extinguished when SANADA put Juice to sleep with the Skull End, then tucked him in with a moonsault. (I wanted to say that SANADA made Juice “stop, drop, and roll” or something like that, but I couldn’t make it work. I’m sorry, I have failed you.)
Toru Yano defeats Michael Elgin
And the apologies continue, I’m afraid, as this will be an upsetting read for those who share my vision of a clean sport.
Yano spent much of the match attempting to hit Elgin with a low blow, only to then fake receiving such a shot at the hands of “Big” Mike. The referee — a Mr. Marty Asami (sounds like an alias) — then called the match in Yano’s favor, disqualifying Elgin, despite having had his back turned at the time of the alleged groin shot.
I would now like to make a promise to all the readers of this piece, that my next fax to NJPW’s governing body will call for the immediate dismissal of referee Marty Asami, and for the instillation of instant replay in the event of a foul. The officials in this organization may have given up long ago, but we have not.
Our voices will be heard.
Minoru Suzuki defeats Satoshi Kojima
After the previous match, my tolerance for rule infractions and abysmal officiating was at an all time low. So this parade of outside interference and borderline criminal assault brought on nothing but disgust.
Suzuki had with him not one, but three of his hooligans. How this was allowed, I do not know, but it resulted in Kojima being pinned after a Gotch piledriver. And as if that weren’t enough, Suzuki’s thugs then stomped and stepped on the fallen Kojima, post-match. All my future correspondence with NJPW and its officials will be sternly worded, to say the least.
Kazuchika Okada defeats Tama Tonga
Okada looked loose and confident strutting to the ring. As he should, he’s beautiful. Seething with jealousy, Tonga attacked Okada before the bell, and yanked the coat right off of his back. Even worse, he put it on (ugh, burn it).
But proving once and for all that the clothes do not make the man, Okada countered a Gun Stun with a German suplex, and turned off the lights on Tonga’s little fashion show with the Rainmaker. His undefeated streak continues on.
Kenny Omega defeats EVIL
This match felt dangerous. It began with a bodyslam onto exposed concrete, and ended with a man spitting up a stream of blood. Three tables were destroyed. A spine was driven into the hard edge of the ring. Blood poured from a man’s eye.
People criticize Omega for the matches where he keeps his shirt on, and clowns around for ten or so some odd minutes. But when a bout like this comes along, you realize: if he didn’t, he’d be dead. Unlike others on the roster, I don’t think Kenny is quite yet ready to die — he’s still fanning the flames that will ignite his blaze of glory.
The crowd may have clapped The Terminator theme throughout, but these are men, not machines. They are flesh and bone. A fact never more apparent than when Omega struggled to lift an unconscious EVIL up for the One Winged Angel, before dropping him back down for the pin.
After twelve brutal nights, here’s where things stand:
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 8
Tetsuya Naito – 8
Tomohiro Ishii – 8
Zack Sabre Jr. – 8
Kota Ibushi – 6
Hirooki Goto – 6
Togi Makabe – 6
Bad Luck Fale – 6
YOSHI-HASHI – 4
Yuji Nagata – 0
Kazuchika Okada – 12
Kenny Omega – 10
Minoru Suzuki – 8
EVIL – 8
SANADA – 8
Michael Elgin – 4
Tama Tonga – 4
Toru Yano – 4
Juice Robinson – 4
Satoshi Kojima – 0